Ladies of Enduro

MEET THE INSPIRING WOMEN TAKING ON ENDURO IN CALIFORNIA
By Matt De Young

VP EnduroFest pro women podium (Called to Creation)

VP EnduroFest pro women podium (Called to Creation)

Back in our February/March issue we did a feature on the enduro scene in California, and how the popular new race format is rapidly gaining converts. In this issue we highlight the inspiring group of women who are making a name for themselves and inspiring other women to check out enduro. With the race season in full swing, we caught up with some of the California-based ladies who are killing it on the enduro circuit right now.

Karin Edwards

Karin Edwards (Forrest Arakawa)

Photo: Chris Bartkowski

Photo: Chris Bartkowski

Karin Edwards
32 • South Lake Tahoe • Expert (Liv/giant, Northstar California)

Karin grew up in cycle centric Belgium, but spent her early years as a competitive runner before joining her college triathlon team in Boulder, CO. A self-proclaimed former tri-geek, she’s having a blast on her mountain bike and loving enduro. She says she has been humbled this season by some of the more technical courses, but is staying positive and looking at these tougher races as opportunities to progress as a rider. Karin serves on the board of Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Assocation (TAMBA). When asked to reflect on the women’s mountain bike community Karin wonder’s if “insta-friend” is a word, after meeting so many supportive and amazingly friendly women on the trails and at races.

Lauren Gregg (Called to Creation)

Lauren Gregg (Called to Creation)

Lauren_headshotWEB

Lauren Gregg
23 • Santa Cruz • Pro (FOX, SVCS, Ryno)

When Lauren was in high school, she came across her pop’s dusty Stumpjumper in the back of the garage and decided to take it for a rip; she was an instant convert. Upon turning 18 she packed up and moved to Mammoth to pursue life on two wheels. She raced cross country with great success, but after a few years of racing and maybe one interval too many, she was burnt out. She hung up her race plate, and began focusing on riding for fun. Around the same time enduro racing was taking off, and Lauren took note. She is now racing in the Pro category. When not racing, she works as a real estate transaction coordinator and helps coach a high school mountain bike team. Lauren is excited to see more women riding aggressively, but is wary of the industry shoehorning female cyclists into a seperate group of riders.

Jackie Harlow (Called to Creation)

Jackie Harlow (Called to Creation)

JackieHarlowIMG_0199WEB

Jackie Harlow
35 • Foster City • Expert (Dirty Jane)

Jackie was a lifelong competitive runner who decided to give triathlons a try. She wasn’t so amped on the swimming, but the cycling struck a chord and she eventually bought herself a mountain bike. She liked mountain biking so much that she found herself running less and riding more. But she missed the rush of competition, and decided that enduro would be a good way to get back into racing and give her the motivation to progress as a cyclist. She is proud to ride for Dirty Jane, a women’s clothing company that is dedicated to supporting female riders and enriching the mountain bike community. While Jackie is glad to see the growing number of women in the racing community, she laments the lack of media coverage of female racers and the disparity between men’s and women’s cash purses. In a sensibility that is befitting of an intellectual property lawyer, she would like to point out that when women get rad, they are in fact “riding like girls,” and have not suddenly become men.

Nancy Harris (Jason Cleghorn)

Nancy Harris (Jason Cleghorn)

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Nancy Harris
57 • Riverside • Sport (Incycle, Smith Optics, TLD, Bell, ODI, Continental, Santa Cruz, Shimano, Chaffey Auto Body, Atlas Brace, DeWalt, MRP, Finish Line, Mavic)

Nancy was racing enduro back when racing enduro involved opening up the throttle on a dirt bike rather than dropping the hammer on a pedal bike. She raced motocross, trials, and enduro on motorcycles in the 60s and 70s. While she began riding mountain bikes in the 80s she didn’t enter her first mountain bike race until 2002. She was hooked and began racing regularly. She entered cross country, downhill, Super D, 4x and dual slalom races. When enduro races began surfacing in Southern California she was one of the first women to show up and race. While she isn’t hitting the pedals as hard these days after a knee replacement, she is still having a great time racing. She is excited to see more women showing up at her local Southern California races and hopes that race promoters will take note and do more to foster female participation.

Christine Hirst (Called to Creation)

Christine Hirst (Called to Creation)

ChristineHirst1WEB

Christine Hirst
34 • Fillmore • Pro (Cycleworld, Liv/giant, Camelbak, Kali, Schwalbe)

Christine has been immersed in the mountain bike race scene for over a decade. When her college mountain bike team heard that she had taken up riding, they quickly swooped her up, slapped a full face helmet on her and sent her down the hill at the next collegiate downhill race. Christine describes herself as fiercely competitive – maybe to an unhealthy degree – and she psyches herself up to the point where she has thrown up at the start gate before races. After winning national championships in downhill and cross country, and tiring of the difficulties of lining up sponsors as a woman, she formed her own race team, Vixen Racing, and recruited some of the fastest ladies in the country to join. Christine is focusing on enduro racing these days, and somehow finds the time to train and race while raising two boys, working as a teacher, getting her second masters degree in Astrophysics, teaching mountain bike skills clinics, and working with local land managers to increase trail access.

Amy Morrison (Robert Lowe)

Amy Morrison (Robert Lowe)

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Amy Morrison
25 • Auburn • Pro (Mike’s Bikes)

Amy took up road biking after graduating from college when she was moving around a lot for work. She eventually put down roots in Sacramento and bought herself a mountain bike, entering the local cross country series. Amy is competitive, and she found herself very comfortable pushing hard through race courses, especially the rough sections. She knew that downhill riding was her strongpoint so the switch from cross country to enduro racing was a natural step. After riding mountain bikes for less than two years, she has found herself atop the pro podium repeatedly this season. Amy is a founding member of the Mountain Miss Fits, a women’s cycling club that focuses on getting more women on bikes through advocacy, skills clinics, and trail stewardship. When not racing or helping out with the cycling club, she works as a pharmaceutical sales rep, a good thing she says, as her meteoric progression in mountain biking has not been without its fair share of cuts and bruises.

Erica Sander (Kevin Smallman)

Erica Sander (Kevin Smallman)

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Erica Sander
31 • San Leandro • Sport

Erica got into cycling, just cruising the river trail in Sacramento while she was in school there. After graduating from college, she moved to the Bay Area with bike in tow. Being new to town and not having many friends she was looking for a positive social outlet. Erica fired up the internet, found a local bike group, and linked up with them for a ride. She found herself immersed in a tight-knit community that revolved around riding and racing. The connections that she made through this group drew her to try cross country racing, cyclocross, Super D, and even a crit. She was drawn to the casual, social nature of Super-D races which made for an easy transition into Enduro racing. She is hoping to race the whole California Enduro series this year.

Brianne Spiersch

Brianne Spiersch (Called to Creation)

BSpierschWEB

Brianne Spiersch
30 • Salinas • Pro (FOX, Smith, TwinSix, Cupertino Bike Shop)

Brianne took up cycling when her boyfriend, a professional off-road motorcycle racer, gave up motorcycle racing in favor of racing mountain bikes. She made the jump into cycling at the same time and began racing cross country. While she raced an enduro a few years back, this is her first season where it has been a major focus. Brianne is heavily involved with cycling advocacy. She coaches the Salinas High School mountain bike team, and has watched the number of female racers grow from just three when she began coaching in 2010 to ten this past season. She is also the regional coordinator for Little Bellas, an organization dedicated to helping young women 7-16 meet their potential through mountain biking. The program includes skills instruction, mentoring, team building, and of course, trail riding. Brianne feels that cultivating a strong foundation in cycling in girls from a young age is the best thing the industry and cycling community can do to strengthen female participation.

Teal Stetson-Lee (Robert Lowe)

Teal Stetson-Lee (Robert Lowe)

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Teal Stetson-Lee
28 • Reno • Pro (Luna)
While Teal was attending Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado, she joined the Collegiate cycling team as a way to stay in shape for cross country skiing off season. After college she began racing pro cyclocross, cross country, and Super D. She has incorporated enduro racing into her schedule this season and is amped on the emphasis on gravity. While Teal likes the intensity of the timed stages of Enduro races, she also likes the fact that it doesn’t require 100% focus all of the time, allowing competitors to relax and get to know each other on transfer stages. She sees the UCI’s mandate that women be awarded equal prize money at races as a huge step forward for women in cycling. She would like to see this pervade the cycling world. Teal races for the Luna Pro Team, a team that has dominated women’s cycling since its inception while working to promote and encourage female participation in the sport.

Jackie Swider

Jackie Swider (Called to Creation)

JackieSwiderWEB

Jackie Swider
25 • San Luis Obispo • Pro (Art’s Cyclery)

Jackie’s exposure to mountain biking came through a group of friends who were into downhill riding in San Luis Obispo.
She checked out some group rides and soon enough found herself racing in the local pirate downhill series. While she was amped on getting after it on the downhill bike she was impressed with the fitness of some of the ladies she rode with. This led her to pick up a trail bike and start putting in miles. This new found appreciation for pedaling and her strong downhill background left her perfectly suited to take on enduro racing, letting her test her fitness while still getting in the brrrappp factor of riding tech trails. She is having a great season and has climbed onto the pro podium at several events in California and Oregon. Jackie feels like enduro is a great format for women looking to race, the camaraderie, relaxed vibe and festival like atmosphere make it a less intimidating undertaking then hopping into cross country or downhill racing. Jackie is keyed into SLO Dirt Girls, a Facebook page dedicated to connecting female riders in San Luis Obispo. The 25 year old is pursuing a career as a wine maker.

Rachel Throop (Called to Creation)

Rachel Throop (Called to Creation)

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Rachel Throop
26 • Costa Mesa • Pro (GT, SRAM, TLD, Sensus, Ryno)

Rachel started racing mountain bikes at the age of ten. Her dad loaded up the whole family and pulled a trailer from race to race. By 17 she was a junior world champion in cross country. She took a break from racing in college, feeling a little burnt out with the constant training required to race at an elite level. After a few years away from the race scene she was drawn back by the prospect of racing enduro. It was a good move for her. She is having a great time and a strong season, with podiums at several events. Rachel stresses the importance of positivity as a professional athlete. She recognizes that her sponsors are supporting her because she is shedding a positive light on their company and products. She keeps this in mind even when she has had a bad day on the hill and strives to keep things light. Rachel left a full time job in the bike industry and now bartends which pays better and allows her to fully devote herself to riding and racing.

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WHAT THEY’RE RACING IN CA

CALIFORNIA ENDURO SERIES
World-class enduro events that everyone from amateur to pro can enjoy, on the best trails California has to offer. 2014 races include the Battle Born Enduro, VP EnduroFest at China Peak Mountain Resort, Northstar Livewire Classic Enduro, Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro and the Santa Cruz Super Enduro.
californiaenduroseries.com

NORTHSTAR ENDURO SERIES
Northstar California’s mountain bike park offers the perfect venue for their thrilling and challenging enduro race series. The final race in their series— the Livewire Classic Enduro—is round 3 of the California Enduro Series.
northstarcalifornia.com

PCA ENDURO SERIES
Professional racer Eric Carter and Racers and Chasers race promoter Robert Herber teamed up to present a Southern California enduro series. 2014 venues included Black Mountain (San Diego) and Riverside (Greater Los Angeles).
racepca.com

SOCAL ENDURO SERIES
SoCal Endurance presents the SoCal Enduro Series at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula and is “home” to a thriving and passionate ladies’ team that races throughout southern California and beyond.
socalendurance.com

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1 Comment

  1. Nancy Harris

    What a great article! Thank you for including me. And not listed is a new Enduro series put in by Rim Nordic!

    http://rimnordic.com/enduro-1

    Reply

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